Dr Emma Robinson
Dr Emma Robinson
University Walk, Bristol
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Neural and neurochemical mediators of behaviour and their role in psychiatric disorders
Work in our laboratory uses behavioural studies alongside neuropharmacological and neurochemical approaches to study the role of specific neural and neurochemical systems in the control of behaviour. We are particularly interested in developing novel models, that can be also be used in humans, to study the cause and treatment of psychiatric conditions where emotional changes are an important feature e.g. depression and anxiety. In addition, our work is also relevant to other psychiatric conditions including drug addiction, schizophrenia and ADHD.
The majority of our research uses operant and non-operant methods to assess particular aspects of behaviour such as emotional behaviour, attention, behavioural control and decision making.
Animal models of emotional behaviour are limited in terms of their relevance to human psychiatric disorders such as depression and anxiety. We have now developed a number of translational models which replicate symptoms associated with cognitive affective behaviour. For example, have developed an exciting new method for rodents which may help to predict whether a drug will have antidepressant or pro-depressant effects in man. This work is also revealing possible new mechanisms which could contribute to the development of depression and its reversal by drug and psychological treatments. We have used a judgement bias task to test how both animal and human subjects respond to emotional stimuli and ambiguous stimuli under different affective states. This work adds to a growing literature showing that animal and human judgement and decision-making is influenced by their affective state.
These novel behavioural methods are used in combination with pharmacology and/or genetic approaches to manipulate specific neural and neurochemical processes to test specific hypotheses relating to the cause and treatment of different pscyhiatric disorders.
The laboratory uses a wide range of techniques to compliment the behavioural procedures including receptor autoradiography (see figure right) and immunocytochemistry to quantify the expression and distribution of receptors in the brain. Neurochemical experiments using microdialysis facilitate quantification of brain transmitters whilst genetic approaches such as antisense technology and viral-mediated gene transfer are used to alter the expression and/or function of target proteins in the brain.
For more information about using animals in research visit: http://www.understandinganimalresearch.org.uk/
Antisense technology, small intefering RNA, monoamine neurotransmitters
- Development and testing of novel approaches to measure affective state
- Characterisation of noradrenergic mechanisms in attention and impulse control
- New insights into possible neuropsychological mechanisms in depression and drug-induced antidepressant and pro-depressant effects
Diseases related to this field of research
Clinical depression, Anxiety, ADHD, Schizophrenia, Parkinson's disease, hypertension
Processes and functions relevant to this work
Neurobiology of emotions, regulation of behaviour, regulation of neurotransmission, central control of blood pressure
Abi Benn, Michaela Loft, Sarah Stuart, Christian Wood
Techniques in routine use
Operant models of attention and executive function, behavioural pharmacology, receptor autoradiography, radioligand binding studies, central bioavailability studies
Equipment in routine use
Operant chambers, MCID image analyser, high performance liquid chromatography
Prof David Nutt - Psychopharmacology Unit - Bristol,
Prof Mike Mendl - Animal Welfare and Behaviour Group - School of Veterinary Sciences - University of Bristol,
Prof Marcus Munafo - Department of Experimental Psychology - University of Bristol,
Dr John Crosby - Department of Chemistry - University of Bristol,
Prof Trevor Robbins - Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience Institute - Department of Experimental Psychology - University of Cambridge,
Dr Jeffery Dalley - Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience Institute - Department of Experimental Psychology - University of Cambridge
- BSc Pharmacology Level 1, 2 and 3
- MBChB - Central nervous system
- 2nd and 3rd BVSc
- 2nd BDS
- Animal Behaviour unit, Langford
I am particularly interested in science communication work and undertake a number of different science engagement activities including:
- Neuroscience and drug workshops for primary and secondary schools
- Summer schools for GCSE and ‘A’ level students run at the University of Bristol
- Media interviews
- Local and national science events e.g. Brain Awareness Week; Explore @ Bristol, Science Alive @ the Galleries, Bristol; Cheltenham Science Festival
- Course teaching for teachers and complementary therapists
- Robinson, E, Eagle, D, Mar, A, Bari, A, Banerjee, G, Jiang, X, Dalley, J & Robbins, T 2008, Similar effects of the selective noradrenaline reuptake inhibitor atomoxetine on three distinct forms of impulsivity in the rat. Neuropsychopharmacology, vol 33 (5)., pp. 1028 - 1037
- Paterson, L, Tyacke, R, Robinson, E, Nutt, D & Hudson, A 2007, In vitro and in vivo effect of BU99006 (5-isothiocyanato-2-benzofuranyl-2-imidazoline) on I2 binding in relation to MAO: evidence for two distinct I2 binding sites. Neuropharmacology, vol 52 (2)., pp. 395 - 404
- Dalley, J, Fryer, T, Brichard, L, Robinson, E, Theobald, D, Lääne, K, Peña, Y, Murphy, E, Shah, Y, Probst, K, Abakumova, I, Aigbirhio, F, Richards, H, Bacon, J, Everitt, B & Robbins, T 2007, Nucleus accumbens D2/3 receptors predict trait impulsivity and cocaine reinforcement. Science, vol 315 (5816)., pp. 1267 - 1270
- Anderson, N, Sief, I, Nutt, D, Hudson, A & Robinson, E 2006, Autoradiographical distribution of imidazoline binding sites in monoamine oxidase A deficient mice. Journal of Neurochemistry, vol 96 (6)., pp. 1551 - 1559
- Anderson, N, Tyacke, R, Husbands, S, Nutt, D, Hudson, A & Robinson, E 2006, In vitro and ex vivo distribution of [3H] harmane, an endogenous β-carboline, in rat brain. Neuropharmacology, vol 50 (3)., pp. 269 - 276
- Button, KS, Ioannidis, JPA, Mokrysz, C, Nosek, BA, Flint, J, Robinson, ESJ & Munafò, MR 2013, Power failure: why small sample size undermines the reliability of neuroscience. Nature Reviews. Neuroscience.
- Stuart, SA, Butler, P, Munafò, MR, Nutt, DJ & Robinson, ESJ 2013, A translational rodent assay of affective biases in depression and antidepressant therapy. Neuropsychopharmacology : official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology.
- Anderson, MH, Munafò, MR & Robinson, ESJ 2012, Investigating the psychopharmacology of cognitive affective bias in rats using an affective tone discrimination task. Psychopharmacology.
- Murphy, ER, Fernando, AB, Urcelay, GP, Robinson, E, Mar, AC, Theobold, DE, Dalley, JW & Robbins, TW 2012, Impulsive behaviour induced by both NMDA receptor antagonism and GABAA receptor activation in rat ventromedial prefrontal cortex. Psychopharmacology (Berl), vol 219., pp. 401 - 410
- Bari, A, Eagle, D, Mar, A, Robinson, E & Robbins, T 2009, Dissociable effects of noradrenaline, dopamine, and serotonin uptake blockade on stop task performance in rats. Psychopharmacology (Berl), vol 205., pp. 273 - 283
Full publications list in the University of Bristol publications system